Saturday, May 31, 2014

It's time for a change.

I am changing the format and timing of my blog.  My new plan involves a weekly post (usually scheduled for Sunday) and I will post a complete topic.  For example, my first June post will discuss deep vein thrombosis (DVP) and how to protect yourself while traveling.  This blog post will be a complete discussion of the topic (not small snippets of information.)  Some of the “In the News” posts will be shorter.   I hope you enjoy the new blog formatting.

We recently spent 13 days in Ireland and Scotland.  We had a great vacation and I plan to share some pictures and information from our trip.  If you aren’t signed up to receive my blog posts by email, you can sign up easily (top right corner) and it’s free.  Thank you to my long-term readers for your loyalty.  I hope you enjoy the new format. 


Wednesday, May 28, 2014

In the News--Declining diabetes complications for US adults

All you readers who have been working to care for your diabetes, I applaud you and say keep up the good work.  And work it is—eating healthy foods and keeping your blood sugar levels under control, trying to add exercise to your busy days and being vigilant to check your feet for sore spots.  If you aren’t doing these things, now is a good time to start working with your doctor to better care for your diabetes.

Five of the major complications caused by diabetes include lower limb amputation, end-stage kidney failure, heart attack, stroke, and deaths due to high blood sugar (hyperglycemia) all declined.  The complication rates of all five have decreased over the last 20 years.
·       Lower limb amputations and strokes decreased by approximately 50%.
·       Kidney failure decreased by 30%
·       Heart attacks and deaths due to high blood sugar decreased by 60%

Good news for many people who are dealing with their type-2 diabetes.  This article can be found at





Monday, May 26, 2014

Birding--healthy activity

Bird watching is healthy for us
Do you go “birding?”  Have you considered that birdwatching is a healthy activity?
Researchers reported that birding promotes several healthy behaviors, such as

·       Birding gets us moving.  Whether it’s going for a hike to identify new birds or feeding the birds you see in your backyard, you move more and use more energy.  If you have many hummingbird feeders, you may find yourself mixing lots of food to keep the little guys happy.

·       As you become more interested in birding, you will find yourself reaching for your bird book to identify new birds you see.  Experts at the Alzheimer’s Association believe that we can help keep our brains healthy by learning new things.  What new bird have you seen that you need to identify?  Pull out your resource book (or do a google search).

·       Birding can become a social activity if you join a group or find yourself meeting people who like to birdwatch.  Social times with friends help keep us healthy and engaged in life.

·       Spending time outdoors can be healthy and invigorating.  My husband enjoys sitting in the sun, watching birds and listening to them sing.  (Remember your sun screen and bug spray to ward off problems.)
More information about the healthy aspects of birding can be found at



Saturday, May 24, 2014

Restless legs syndrome--treatment

Some lifestyle changes suggested by the UT health newsletter may successfully treat restless legs:  "decreasing alcohol, taking folate and magnesium supplements, getting regular sleep, moderating exercise, massaging the legs, applying heat or ice to the legs, or taking a hot bath." 

If those changes do not help, medications can be used for treatment of restless legs syndrome. Four drugs have been FDA-approved for treatment of Restless legs syndrome.  Anyone dealing with these symptoms should talk to his doctor for best treatment options. 

More information about Restless legs syndrome can be found at
Willis Ekbom Disease Foundation at

The John Hopkins Medicine website gives information at

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Restless legs--diagnosis

Diagnosis of restless legs syndrome can be difficult; if a person is anemic (iron deficient), a blood test will show that result which can be treated.  There aren’t any specific tests to diagnose.  Blood tests to check for anemia and vitamin deficiencies may be done.  The doctor may include a physical exam, a neurological exam, a sleep study and review of a person’s medical and family history in an effort to diagnose restless legs syndrome. 

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Restless legs syndrome --who is affected and what causes it

Restless legs syndrome affect both men and women, but women twice as often.  The experts aren’t sure what causes this neurological syndrome.  People who deal with restless legs often have chronic diseases such as diabetes, kidney disease, neuropathy, tremors and multiple sclerosis.  Is this coincidence or do the chronic illnesses contribute to restless legs?  No one knows.  They believe there is an inherited tendency and have identified six genes which are risk factors.  Restless legs can begin at any age and may worsen as a person ages.  Iron deficiency anemia can be one treatable cause of restless legs syndrome. 

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Restless Legs Syndrome

Restless legs syndrome (also called Willis Ekbom Disease) affects up to 10 percent of Americans.  The name "Restless legs" explains the symptoms: the urge that you must move your legs.  Some people feel discomfort or a creepy crawly sensation and tension in the legs which requires movement in an effort to make the feelings go away. People with restless legs suffer from sleep disturbances.  As they experience leg twitches or jerking movements every 10 to 40 seconds all night long, their sleep is disrupted, leaving them tired and feeling cranky.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Sleep apnea--one more comment

One more comment about sleep apnea.  I've learned over the years that anesthesia staff take sleep apnea very seriously because they recognize the strain it puts on a person's body.  Before any anesthesia and surgery, the person with sleep apnea should mention this condition to anesthesia.

In conclusion, many people do not recognize they deal with sleep apnea; they struggle through their days exhausted and do not understand why.  Proper diagnosis and treatment of sleep apnea can improve quality of life while decreasing the stress on their heart, lungs and body organs. 
For more information about this article,  see the University of Texas Healthleader newsletter at
For more information about sleep apnea, check out the American Sleep Apnea Association at

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Surgery for sleep apnea

Surgery can be done for sleep apnea in the form of uvulopalatopharyngoplaty (UPPP), laser-assisted UPPP, or a maxillomandibular advancement, where the upper or lower jaw bones are moved forward.  The surgical option are done less often and have their own unique risks and benefits. 

Monday, May 12, 2014

Sleep apnea and its most common treatment

If the sleep lab test comes back with a diagnosis of sleep apnea, the most common treatment is a CPAP machine (continuous positive airway pressure).  The CPAP machine gently blows oxygenated air into a face mask worn over the nose/face.  It makes oxygen readily available.  “At its best, CPAP totally reverses the cause of the condition and eliminates the apnea.”  (UT Healthleader,  Another option in sleep apnea machines is called Adaptive servo-ventilation machine.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Symptoms of sleep apnea and diagnosing this condition

Symptoms of sleep apnea include:  snoring, gasping for air during sleep, waking up frequently, morning irritability, headaches and sleepiness. 
Sleep apnea can decrease a person’s memory and judgment; a tired person can experience accidents, including car crashes. 

Diagnosing sleep apnea is done after an overnight stay in a sleep lab.  The test is called a polysomnogram (PSG).  The person spends a night at the sleep lab, connected to monitors and cameras which document every move and breath the person takes.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Sleep apnea--what is it and what causes it

What is sleep apnea?  Sleep apnea occurs when a person’s sleep is interrupted many times throughout the night.  The person may snore a lot.  He may have pauses in breathing (called apnea or absence of breathing) which may last up to 10 seconds.  His oxygen levels drop, his body has to work harder to oxygenate his heart and body organs, and his sleep is interrupted.

What causes sleep apnea?  The most common type of sleep apnea, Obstructive sleep apnea, is caused by the person’s tongue and tissues in the back of the throat partially obstructing the airway.  The second type of sleep apnea is called Central Sleep Apnea when the brain fails to tell the body to breathe.  The third type, called Complex Sleep apnea is a combination of the first two types.  
Next time I discuss symptoms of sleep apnea.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Sleep apnea

Do you or someone you love snore during sleep?  Does that person feel fatigued/exhausted every morning?  Is his memory slipping?  Have you considered this person might have sleep apnea?  Diagnosis and treatment of sleep apnea can improve quality of life and decrease stress on the person’s body.

According to the University of Texas Health Leader letter, sleep apnea affects more than 18 million American adults.  Children can suffer from sleep apnea if they have enlarged tonsils and adenoids.  Most people dealing with sleep apnea are adults over age 40.  Some people, not all, who have sleep apnea are overweight.    
The next few posts will talk about sleep apnea and treatments.  Next time will cover "what is sleep apnea and what causes it"

Sunday, May 4, 2014

In the News--FDA proposes tighter rules on antibacterial soaps

I saw this headline a few months ago and found it interesting.  You may be thinking,”why would the FDA be concerned about antibacterial soaps?  Isn’t antibacterial soap a good thing?” 

The FDA people are concerned that germs are mutating and becoming more difficult to kill. If soap and water is just as effective for routine bathing and handwashing as antibacterial soaps, why should we be using antibacterial soaps?  Are the “antibacterial” products safe for us to use routinely?   I have noticed that many body wash products and hand wash products have “antibacterial” on the label.  So the FDA regulators proposed that companies making antibacterial hand soaps and body washes show that their products are safe and more effective than soap and water.  I suspect we will see more about this topic in the future. 


Friday, May 2, 2014


Three years ago we planted asparagus crowns/roots in flower beds and watched them grow.  Last year and again this year we can harvest and enjoy eating the asparagus.  Fresh asparagus tastes very good; much better than canned versions.  This green vegetable is a healthy source of minerals (calcium, magnesium, potassium, phosphorus) vitamin A, K and B6. 
I think the asparagus plant makes a pretty green, ferny looking background for some of the flowers we plant.  I’m enjoying my vegetable/flower gardens.